Saturday, October 31, 2015

Subversive Living: A More Prosperous Planet

Subversive Living: A More Prosperous Planet: About time somebody wrote about helping people prosper instead of just demonizing success!  It's been a while.  Felipe Tudela offers a rational look at wealth...

Friday, October 30, 2015

Review: The Girl Who Roars by Shirley Wu

Shirley Wu used to be a people-pleasing person who worked hard for the wrong reasons.  She then realized she wanted to be her best self, investing in her dreams and maximizing her gifts.  Shirley shares her 3-step process:

  1. Intention
  2. Initiating
  3. Immersion.
Instead of seeking approval from others, seek purposeful experience.  My favorite quote from the book is "Do things that you don't tell anyone about. Don't put it on Facebook."  In other words, live your own best life.  Try things and fail. Learn from the experience.  Don't live in a box.

This is a concise book with a defined action plan.  If you are a wallflower, doormat, or just want to get out of a rut, let Shirley inspire you.  You can get The Girl Who Roars for Amazon Kindle.

Check out her other books as well on her website, Base Camp Shirls

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

I woke up one October morning, got the kids off to school, and picked up my coffee and my Kindle. Allegiant had downloaded at midnight and I was eager for the grand finale of the Divergent trilogy from Veronica Roth. I read through the morning and at lunchtime was finished. Handkerchief, please! I thought Veronica was brilliant. I hurried off to post my 5-star review on Amazon.
I was shocked to see so many 1-star reviews. Do young adults not have the ability to appreciate great writing even if they don't like the ending? While some reviewers rightly pointed out some loose ends that were not tied up and had some legitimate questions about certain plot details, review after review was the venting of children who were angry because the writer did not do things "their way." If you can do better, kids, please write your own excellent series of novels. I will be glad to read them and give them a fair-minded review.
What follows is a spoiler-free review to give you a taste of the book. Start at the beginning of the trilogy, though!
In Divergent, Veronica Roth introduces us to a city organized around five groups. Each faction values one virtue above all others. At age sixteen, at a Choosing Ceremony, young people must choose to join the faction in which they were raised or transfer to another faction, leaving family behind forever. Those who fail initiation into a faction become factionless, and live as outcasts, doing the jobs nobody else will do. Those who have aptitude for more than one faction are called "divergent" and are in danger of death from certain leaders who fear them for their ability to think and act outside the boxes built for them by the founders of their community.
Tris Prior is divergent. She also discovers secret after secret as we follow her through the books. In Insurgent, the secrets really pile up and the characters have to sort through many questions, such as:
  • Who can be trusted? Anyone?
  • Who/what is worth dying for?
  • What kind of world do we want to live in?
Veronica explores themes such as heredity versus environmental factors, the ethics of experimentation on human populations--especially without informed consent of all participants, obedience to government versus obedience to moral principles, and the nature of love, e.g. do we just fall in love, or is it a choice we make every day? This is a lot for young adults to process, but the questions are important. Allegiant asks these questions and shows some possible answers.
I recommend this series to teens and older. Because of the important questions they ask, these books could be a good literature unit for homeschoolers. I also recommend it for family reading. I look forward to my daughters reading this so we can discuss it together as we have so many other books.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Great Apopcalypse: Complicated and Thrilling

Do you enjoy fiction that also makes you think?  If you do, I understand--some of us enjoy thought experiments as a leisure activity!  Daniel Thompson presents The Great Apocalypse as a "philosophical thriller."  If you think philosophy is boring, let this book challenge you to rethink.

Have you ever wondered if everything you assumed to be true wasn't?  Follow Thomas Adams as he sorts ancient mysteries, popular beliefs about the end times, stock market collapses, and danger to the woman he loves.Is he seeing the fulfillment of ancient prophecies?  Is he losing his mind? What is truth?

Buckle up and read cover to cover as all the pieces and layers start to come together.  Available for Kindle or as a paperback.

Daniel Thompson's Author Central page

The Sparlock Blog

Friday, October 9, 2015

Orphans: Fallout from the Vietnam War

Bruce King presents the story of his mother, his family, and his own life.  Along the way, readers learn about Americans in Thailand during the Vietnam war, the plight of the mixed-race children they left behind, the work of the Pearl S. Buck organization, and the journey one might take from Buddhism to Christianity.

If you have ever sponsored a child or been involved in orphan care, this book is a look from the child's perspective as well as from the perspective of an adult looking back at a long journey.

Bruce King's Blog: Orphans, Servants, Loving our Community

Buy Orphans of the Secret War on Amazon

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Gray Zone: YA Novel with Important Themes

Gray Zone by Veronica R. Tabares is an excellent addition to any YA book collection.  This novel is a compelling, well-written story about high school students.It also incorporates important concerns of modern teens: bullying via social media.

Autumn, the main character, has a supportive family that helps her survive bullying so severe she had to change schools.  Some of her classmates at her new school were not so fortunate--or they never gave their parents a chance to help them.  This story has victims and survivors, as well as  one who decides to be a champion/defender.

Many teens will identify with one or more characters in Gray Zone.  Parents or teachers can use a discussion of this book to teach teens how to ask for help when needed.  I would recommend parents read this book along with their teens, since suicide is one element of the story. My family has often read together, a practice that continues as I discuss books with my grown children and we recommend books to one another!

I received a free review copy of this book and offer my endorsement as a librarian and as a mother of six.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Are You a Prankster? Try Glitter Bombs

While I'm not a prankster myself (not often, at least) I can recognize an interesting idea when I see one. GlitterBombd specializes in sparkly pranks for special people in your life.  Choose from a variety of designs, all combined with glitter and mailed to your favorite (or least favorite) person.  Political, celebrity, and cartoon designs are some of your choices.

Use Coupon Code 2125AA20 to save 50% on your order for a limited time.

 A portion of  GlitterBombd proceeds go to Wounded Warrior Project.